Creating a Life Free From Chaos

November project: The Garage

November’s project is cleaning out the garage. We’re kicking this off by participating in our community’s garage sale this weekend, and the unsold items will be going to a local charity. Does your garage need a little cleaning out? Best to do it now so you have a place to park your car when the cold (and snow and ice!) hit this winter.

  • Decide what you can actually store in the garage. Make sure to take into account temperature ranges, humidity and pests.
  • Decide what you want to keep and what you can get rid of. Be ruthless and purge — you could use the space, right?
  • Consider hanging big items from the ceiling. We love hanging storage shelves that fit right over my car for storing Christmas decorations and such. Our bikes hang on pulleys in front of the car. Lots of great storage, out of the way.
  • Mount as much as you can on the walls. Shelves are great, but so are pegboards, hooks, and specialty racks.
  • Clean your garden tools before storing them. You can mount them on a rack on the wall, or just stand them upright in a clean trash can, preferably one on wheels.
  • Dispose of old paints, lawn and pest chemicals, fertilizers, etc. properly. Check with your city or county for hazardous waste disposal facilities. Most places have a designated drop-off point where they collect your hazardous chemicals for free. Some even come to your home to pick up the chemicals — just call for an appointment.
  • Recycle empty boxes and packing materials, as well as old newspapers and magazines.
  • Set up an area for charity donations or garage sale items. Pick a date for your sale or arrange pick-up/drop-off of charity items. Mark your calendar now so you don’t procrastinate! Craiglist or Freecycle are also great ways to get rid of unwanted items.
  • Clean up any oil stains from your car. Spread a thick layer of fresh sawdust or kitty litter over the grease to absorb excess grease or oil on the surface. Allow the sawdust or kitty litter to sit for a day or two.Gently sweep away the dirty sawdust or kitty litter.Pour dry cement over the entire dried grease spot. Allow the cement to sit for a day or two, then sweep away the dirty cement. Gather dirty cement in a bag and throw it away. Do not allow the dirty dry cement to go down the sewer. The kitty litter and sawdust soak up grease on the surface, whereas the dry cement actually absorbs the stain out of the driveway.
  • Finish up by sweeping away dirt, leaves, dead bugs and dust from your garage, including the corners.

Make Your Traditions Into Memories You Can Share

Years ago, a friend told me about her Halloween tradition. Every year since her oldest son was born, they went to the local Pumpkin Patch in their Halloween costumes to take photos. She has an entire collection of her boys playing in their costumes among the pumpkins, from babyhood on up. I told her I’d love it if she’d bring her pictures in to share. She looked at me blankly — they were all stored in boxes and it’d take a few days to round them up. A week later, she brought a smattering in, frustrated that she couldn’t find more but knowing she had them “somewhere.”

When my son was born, I decided I wanted to have a Pumpkin Patch tradition. So at two months old, we dressed him up (as a pumpkin no less!) and headed to the Halloween Pumpkin Patch for pictures. Last year, again we dressed up and headed to the patch for pictures, this time as Tigger. This past Saturday, we loaded up and played at the patch dressed as a froggie.

Yesterday a coworker asked to see my Pumpkin Patch pictures. Uh oh. I’ve got them online easily accessible…but finding the prints could take a few days. It hit me — is this the way I want my tradition’s memories to be, the same way my friend’s had been, buried in boxes or on disks never to be seen again?

Now I’m putting together a Halloween Book. I picked up a simple black photo album with a picture hole in the cover and made a little Halloween Pumpkin graphic to slide in the cover. I’m grabbing a couple of photos from each of the past Halloweens to start the book, and then in coming years, I can just add the new photos in after the older ones.

This is an easy project to start now since my son is only on his third Halloween, and it’ll be simple to add in the new pictures each year. Next year when someone asks to see the photos — and I know they will since my son will have a little brother to take to the patch — I’ll have my book ready to go. And more importantly, my boys will be able to easily look through the book every year and remember our fun outings to the Pumpkin Patch and laugh about their costumes.

Do you have a holiday tradition? It doesn’t have to be Halloween — a Thanksgiving book or a Valentine book or a Fourth of July book could be just as special and just as easy to update. The important part is finding a simple way for you to record and remember your traditions that doesn’t take more time than the celebrating!